Google’s got a shark problem.

Rather, it’s trying to avoid one. The Mountain View-based tech giant is wrapping their trans-Pacific underwater fiber optic cables in a Kevlar-like material, a synthetic compound used in bullet proof vests, in order to protect them against shark bites. Sharks apparently love the taste of fiber optic cables, so Google is taking no chances.

Google’s Dan Belcher, a product manager on the company’s cloud team, told people at the Google Cloud Roadshow in Boston last week that engineers would begin wrapping the cables in Kevlar to protect them. The story hit just in time for Shark Week and was first reported by Network World.

Google announced it, along with four other companies, was spending $300 million to construct what is being called FASTER, a trans-Pacific cable that will run from the West Coast of the U.S. to Japan, in order to speed up data transmission times. Several Chinese companies are also involved in the ambitious project.

Google’s VP for tech infrastructure, Urs Holzle, posted on a Google + blog about the cable earlier this week:

At Google we want our products to be fast and reliable, and that requires a great network infrastructure, whether it’s for the more than a billion Android users or developers building products on Google Cloud Platform. And sometimes the fastest path requires going through an ocean. That’s why we’re investing in FASTER, a new undersea cable that will connect major West Coast cities in the US to two coastal locations in Japan with a design capacity of 60 Tbps (that’s about ten million times faster than your cable modem). Along with our previous investments – UNITY in 2008 and SJC (South-East Asia Japan Cable) in 2011, FASTER will make the internet, well, faster and more reliable for our users in Asia.

Underwater transmission cables already line the floors of both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Google’s fiber optic cables are made of glass, which will now be shrouded in Kevlar to protect them for shark attacks and other potential hazards. With the new cables, transmission speeds will likely be 1 gigabit per second.

Scientists have speculated that sharks are attracted by the electromagnetic hum of the cables. But nobody knows for sure, because sharks are incapable of expressing their feelings. To humans anyway. And now, Google is taking no chances from the potential catastrophe coming from sharks.


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